book review

The Ultimate Road Trip Novel | The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Friday, December 15, 2017

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: 6/27/17
Pages: 513
Source: OwlCrate

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores. 


Monty is dreading the return to his father’s estate to begin learning the family business. With this one last hurrah, he embarks on his Tour with his best friend, who he secretly has a crush on, and his sister, who he can’t wait to be rid of. When he steals from the Duke as a joke, the Duke doesn’t find it funny and sends terrible men after them who do not care to collect them dead or alive. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee is an incredible adventure with lots of heart that will leave you laughing out loud and pining away for the sequel.

Hilarious Characters

  • As soon as the book opens and our protagonist is introduced, he demands to be seen. Monty reminds me a bit like Jace from The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare with his direct way of speaking, his obnoxious admiration of himself and his hilarious sarcasm that will have you in laughing fits. Monty is such a well written character. What's even more amazing is that The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue is in first perspective so we get Monty's view on a lot of things and he always has something remarkable and funny to say.
  • The writing is tremendously easy to read. Monty becomes your best friend, someone you’ve known for a very long time. At least, Lee’s writing makes you believe so—getting to know more about Monty’s inner secrets and thoughts is as if you were having an extended sleepover with these amazing characters. It was nonstop fun. Mackenzie Lee gives readers the perfect adventure story with fantastic characters that give you all the feels and a sarcastic tone that will make you smile.
  • Percy is so sweet. His dialogue with Monty, quick thinking and violin-playing just makes me fall in love as the book continues. Everything about his character is fantastic. Each scene is made 100 times better when he graces its pages. 
  • Pirates make an appearance and they add so many extra laughs to the story. The scenes with pirates are where Felicity really begins to shine. She's incredibly intelligent and readers are finally shown how knowledgeable she is in a variety of subjects. She is so independent and probably could run the entire operation by herself. With Monty being overdramatic about everything and Percy inside his own head, Felicity becomes the star which really gets readers excited for what's to come in the sequel.

Nonstop Fun

  • The premise of the book is so much fun. Two friends with Monty's younger sister get to travel Europe, having adventures, for an entire year. The plot is structured incredibly well. 
  • The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is mildly predictable. I didn't necessarily see where the story was going in the main plot; however, I did find that there was a predictable course of action in many of its cause and effects (this happened so naturally this will happen). The characters' personalities made it rather easy to guess where the story would lead to. 
  • I give the award for worst pirates to the lot in this book, however, it was entirely intended and comical. Going into the book, I did not foresee coming across pirates. Though, these particular characters fit seamlessly into the story. It will be interesting to see if Lee has the pirates return for the next book.

Highly Recommend

  • If the sequel is anything like this, it will be absolutely epic! The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy follows Felicity and her adventure after separating from Monty. It releases in 2018. I am so excited to read it! 
  • Be sure to read the author’s note in the end of the book. It gives readers an inside look at some of the real life histories mentioned in the book. Lee also suggests further reading, if interested. From the author’s note, it gives you the sense of how meticulous and focused a lot of the research of the book was. The author’s note made me appreciate the book even more for the extra effort that was put into its glorious pages.
  • This book was difficult to put down. It's hilarious, with on the edge of your seat action and adventure. A definite read.

Overall

Overall, despite the plot being a bit predictable, I found The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee to be a fantastic journey all the same. It is an astounding story that will enchant you from the very beginning with its fun characters, amazing settings and the historical period. 



best of 2017

Top 10 Best Books I Read In 2017

Tuesday, December 12, 2017


It's that time of year again! I hope you are getting into the holiday-spirit. The new year is almost upon us. As much as I am ready for it to be 2018, I still need to devour several more books before 2017 ends. I hit a major reading slump during the summer and have been playing catch up all this time.


I will make it to 100; I just will ignore basic needs like eating and sleeping and I will win this year's challenge. During the summer I posted about some of my favorite books I read this year in the Top 10 Best Books I've Read So Far In 2017 and in the Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag (2017). And now, let's talk favorite books of the whole year! For more input on some of my favorite reads of the year, I will be posting Jamie's annual End of the Year Survey the last week of December. Top Ten Tuesday is created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is: Top 10 Best Books I Read In 2017.


P.S. I Like You by Kasie West
Watchman by Alan Moore


A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Jackaby by William Ritter


City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken
The Infernal Devices: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare and Hyekyung Baek


Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

What are your favorite books you've read this year?

kickin' it

Kickin' It: November 2017

Thursday, December 07, 2017


Kickin’ It is a feature at The Bucket List where I round-up the whole month in one post, bringing you reviews you may have missed, other awesome bookish things, and even what I’m currently obsessed with in other media besides books. November was an amazing reading month. After being in a reading slump for so long, I finally pushed through a few books and came out ahead of my Goodreads Challenge for once. Of course, now in December, I am behind the reading schedule but I'm going to try to read 100 books this year. Considering I only read 36 last year, I surpassed that goal awhile ago. I am now up to 92. So close. In other news, I saw some great movies in November and spent some time with family during Thanksgiving. It was a good month. Here's my wrap-up:


Carry On by Rainbow RowellCarry On by Rainbow Rowell was a wild rollercoaster of feels. Despite sharing similarities with Harry Potter, readers will surely be swept into Simon Snow’s world and enjoy every moment of it.


Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley (2 stars): Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley was the not the book for me. The ridiculous, but imaginative and fresh plot pulls you in and refuses to let go. However, all the pirates and sass in all the world could never save this one from sinking.

Winter by Marissa Meyer (4 stars): Winter may not have been the best out of the four novels. However, with fantastic characters and an unforgettable climax, Winter brings the Lunar Chronicles to a close, a finale the readers will be talking about for a long time.

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake (4 stars): Three Dark Crowns started as a fairytale-esque journey into a dark world. It became so much more than that with a genius plot and intriguing ideas. Readers of fantasy will definitely like Kendare Blake's tale and will surely be eagerly awaiting its sequel.


Love and Luck by Jenna Evans Welch (5/8/18): Author of Love and Gelato brings an equally adorable companion novel that follows Addie in Ireland, navigating through life, family and heartbreak.

War Storm by Victoria Aveyard (5/15/18): We finally have a cover! And it's my least favorite of the four. What do you think about it? It's the finale of the Red Queen series so I'm hoping my ship will sail but it's not looking good.

Meet Cute: Some People Are Destined to Meet anthology (1/2/18): Remember the movie, The Holiday, with Kate Winslet? Her character meets a retired film producer who explains to her what a "meet cute" is. Imagine an entire book with meet cutes, where two love interests meet for the first time. 😊 My heart will explode, I just know it!


Ever the Brave by Erin Summerill (12/5/17): I haven't read Ever the Hunted yet but it sounds absolutely amazing. This series will definitely be a priority for next year. And those covers!

Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West (12/26/17): You know, if it's Kasie West, I will be reading it. I don't even know what's it about. But I know there will be love, life, and something about a list.

Prince in Disguise by Stephanie Kate Strohm (12/19/17): The corniness of the cover aside (though it's not final), Prince in Disguise sounds delightful. Taking one of my favorite things, modern-day royalty and missing it with a reality TV show.



I finally caved and got Netflix. I know, I know. I'm so behind in everything. In November, I was able to race through the first season of Stranger Things which was absolutely amazing, just like everyone says it is. I am also rewatching Release the Hounds which is tons of fun and catching up on Black Mirror. Since getting Netflix, I discovered so many new shows I need to check out. (Maybe I'll make a post about it. Are you interested in hearing about some amazing TV shows? I'm most excited to start Dark; the trailer is below.)


As for movies this month, I saw Thor: Ragnarok (comedic but missing something), Justice League (good but not amazing), and Murder on the Orient Express (Kenneth Branagh is just an absolute genius. There, it's been said.).

How was your November? Read any awesome books? What movies did you see?

Top Ten Tuesday

10 Places I'd Love to Visit Because of Books

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

I was going to take a blogging break for a week or two but then decided I had to be around for this Top 10 because this is my kind of theme. I absolutely adore travel. Give me a plane ticket and give me a book and I'm happy forever.

2017 did not turn out to be a year of travel for me. Just in November of last year, I returned from a trip to South Korea. And then, nothing. Except the wonderful books I read that whisked me away to amazing countries that I hope to one day visit. (Well, 9 in the list are countries. 😊) Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's topic is: Top 10 Bookish Settings I'd Love to Visit:


New York City - City Love by Susane Colasanti: Let's start close to my home, shall we? I've been to the city quite a few times and have fallen in love with the lights, the skyscrapers, and the fast-pace of life there. It's magical and grungy and something in between. City Love is filled with disappointing instalove but it's also a love letter to New York City.

Austria - Wanderlost by Jen Malone: I love books that include international travel so I knew I'd love Wanderlost when I picked it up. And just as I thought, it was amazing! Plus, I got to visit some places I never even knew existed such as the filming locations to the movie, The Sound of Music. Did you know you can visit the actual gazebo the song, "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" was sang in? How cool!

France - Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins: If I didn't know I already wanted to go to France, Anna sold me a hundred times over. The characters walk the paths of several amazing sites in Paris and believe me, when I get there, I will be following in their footsteps.


Russia - Blood Promise by Richelle Mead: If I recall, there isn't much sightseeing in Blood Promise. However, the small details of the streets and the food was enough that I must put Russia on my travel bucket list.

England - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling: I couldn't have a list about travel and not include this. I've been to Orlando's Universal Studios and have seen Hogwarts and Hogsmeade. However, it would be remarkable to see some of the real filming locations of the movies and the cafe where Rowling first put pen to paper.

Ireland - The Accident Season by Moira Fowley Doyle: The Accident Season was not what I expected. However, Ireland with its gorgeous charm made me fall in love with the book.


Egypt - Reawakened by Colleen Houck: More books need to be set in Egypt because amazing! There's just something about the history of secret tombs, mummies, and deadly curses.

Belize - Wanderlove by Kristen Hubbard: One of the most unique and inspiring travel YA books is Wanderlove. The hardships and obstacles are balanced with the protagonist's positive perspective and inspirational occurrences. It depicts the most realistic travel account that I've ever read in fiction.

Scotland - Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor: Marketed as an Outlander for teens, Into the Dim is so much more than that. It goes beyond the time travel and takes readers on a journey through beautiful Scotland.


Italy - Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch: I went into this book expecting a travel romance. What I got was a mystery, an adventure in the past, and a quest in finding oneself. Like this book points out, there are two things that tourists hope to find on their vacation to Italy: love and gelato. However, Italy offers so much more than that.

Get your passport and pack some suitcases! Where are you traveling to?

book review

Disappointment Hides Behind a Gorgeous Cover | Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

Friday, December 01, 2017

Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: 4/28/15
Pages: 309
Source: purchased

Aza Ray is drowning in thin air. 

Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live. 

So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn't think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.

Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia. 

Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming. Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning. And in Aza’s hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?


Aza Ray suffers from a rare form of lung disease. The doctors are baffled. All her life she has had trouble breathing. She is dying. However, before her death day comes, she is kidnapped and brought to a ship in the sky. She soon realizes that there are secrets hidden away that she wished were left unsaid. Taken away from the only family she thought she ever knew, she begins to understand that she belongs here—on this ship in the sky, on Magonia.

What Will You Find Behind the Cover

  • Bird people: I’m not talking Maximum Ride bird people where they were once human and now genetically engineered birds. I’m talking birds who change into people when they are high in the sky. They live on ships with sea creatures high above the clouds.
  • I fear we’ve gone Animal Farm. Even Aza Ray admits it. The similarities of rebelling animals that talk are definitely there. My dislike for animals talking actually stems from that book, Animal Farm by George Orwell, and if I had known this book consisted of talking animals, I would have easily skipped it.
  • It’s basically Happy Feet in the sky. There isn’t much tap dancing in the book, well absolutely no dancing at all that I recall. However, there is tons of singing or birdsong, depending on how you look at it. Birds get magical powers when they sing.
  • Pirates: For a chapter or two, pirates graced its pages. There were some pretty awesome fight scenes that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

What I Liked

  • If you are still trying to wrap your head around what this book holds, you still probably are only getting a gist. Pirates and Happy Feet and Animal Farm and Peter Pan all rolled up into one? What would that even look like? Maria Dehvana Headley has created something truly imaginative and magical. If the plot does nothing for you, it will certainly be the surprises of infinite possibilities Headley has woven into our modern world. 
  • Magonia is most definitely something I’ve never come across before. I don’t read much talking animal stories but the fantasy world Headley created is something entirely different than ever before seen. It is both fresh and new.
  • Aza Ray was many things. However, my favorite was her level of sass. Her quirky comebacks and never-take-no-for-an-answer attitude was definitely an amazing side of her character. 
  • Despite my disappointment in the characters and plot, I still found it oddly compelling. I can’t pinpoint what exactly pushes you forward. It could be the curiosity of the strange, new world which refuses to let you go. Magonia is a page-turner that you’ve never seen before.
happy feet dance GIF

What I Disliked

  • The beginning was extremely slow. The protagonist’s narrative flows in a methodically way, slow and quiet, with the constant reminder of I’m-dying. There is no lack of sass which does grant a few laughs here and there. Otherwise, though, the introduction of the plot suffers from the narrative.
  • Despite being incredibly imaginative, it does get a bit out there. Fantastic world building has to consist of a base, usually in the form of realistic backstory (realistic: as in, we can see how this could happen to an extent). With Headley’s world, there is little to no backstory. There just is this world and you have to believe it exists in the realm of our own. This makes it a bit confusing. We are expected to go with the flow, rather than a world that makes a sense. This sort of world leaves the unexpected surprises of a new creature or story but leaves readers too confused to fully appreciate it.
  • Headley seemed to be making a love triangle happen where I saw none. Love triangles add dramatic effect to the plot with the constant question of who is she going to choose. A forced love triangle, where they shouldn’t be, is not a good thing. Without giving too much away, Aza Ray knows two boys: an unresolved friendship (but they want something more) with the boy from back home and a stranger who becomes her singing partner. The love triangle is unnecessary and doesn’t do much for the plot in the end. 
bird no GIF by Cheezburger

Overall

Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley was the not the book for me. The ridiculous, but imaginative and fresh plot pulls you in and refuses to let go. However, all the pirates and sass in all the world could never save this one from sinking.


Magonia (4/28/15): 2 stars
Aerie (10/4/16): TBD